Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko / Photo from UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for making Ukraine a more European-oriented country.

On GPS, Ukraine's President told Fareed Zakaria that Vladimir Putin's meddling in his country had boosted Ukrainian support for joining the EU and NATO, CNN reported.

Answering a question from the TV host whether it is true that a strange effect of Putin's campaign against Ukraine has been to unite Ukraine and create a new Ukrainian identity, Poroshenko said: "I can only confirm this phrase. I give you just quite a few figures: in 2013, the [share] of Ukrainians who supported Transatlantic integration, membership in NATO, was 16%. Now it is more than 54%. Who did that? Putin."

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"In 2013, the [share] of Ukrainians who supported European integration, being a member of the European Union was 33%. Now it is 74%. Who did that? Putin. So, thank you Mr. Putin for making my country much more European and much more ready to protect European values, Transatlantic values. And we're absolutely confident that we do not return to the Russian Empire," he said.

Russia has annexed Ukraine's Crimea in March 2014 and unleashed the war in Ukraine's Donbas a month later. Since then, more than 10,000 people have been killed in the war; of them, 2,800 were civilians. Nearly two million people have been internally displaced.